(2228) Demiegretta asha.
The Indian Reef-Heron,
Ardea asha Sykes, P. Z. S., 1832. p. 157 (Deccan). Lepterodius asha. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 390.
Vernacular names. Kola Bogla (Hind.).
Description. Two phases as in the preceding bird, one white, the other slaty-grey with more of a blue-grey tinge than in D. sacra; the white of the chin extends to the whole of the throat and sometimes runs down the fore-neck for a couple of inches.
In breeding plumage the two long lanceolate crest-plumes distinguish this bird at a glance from the bushy-crested D. sacra.
Colours of soft parts as in the Eastern Reef-Heron.
Measurements. Wing 267 to 301 mm.; tail 102 to 112 mm.; tarsus 97 to 102 mm.; culmen 94 to 101 mm.
In non-breeding plumage the ornamental plumes are all shed.
Distribution. Shores of the Persian Gulf to Ceylon and the Laccadives.
Nidification. The Indian Beef-Heron is said to breed in Ceylon and certainly does so in the Laccadives and all along the Western coast of India, North to the extreme head of the Persian Gulf, both on the mainland and on islands in the Gulf. In the centre of Karachi city there is a large colony breeding on a few Pepul-trees round a tank which has been there for a very long time. In 1989 Bulkley was told that the colony was centuries old and in 1927 the birds and their nests were still there. The nests are made of leafy branches and twigs, lined with leaves and are placed high up in big trees, low down on mangrove-trees and bushes by creeks or actually on the ground in the islands where there is no bush or tree-growth. The eggs number three or four and are like those of the preceding bird but decidedly darker in colour. Fifty eggs average 44.9 x 34.3 mm.: maxima 49.7 x 34.0 and 46.0 x 36.0 mm.; minima 43.8 x 32.8 and 44.9 x 32.3 mm. In Ceylon Layard records this Reef-Heron as breeding in May and June. In Sind it breeds in March and April, whilst on the Mekran and Persian Gulf coasts it breeds in April and May.
Habits. Similar to those of the Eastern Reef-Heron and, like that bird, restricted to the coast and islands, though storm-driven individuals may be met with occasionally inland.